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No automatic voter registration (vetoed bill)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Nick Busse
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A proposal to make voter registration automatic for anyone who applies for a driver’s license or other state-issued identification card did not meet the approval of Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The governor vetoed a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) that would have changed Minnesota’s current system from an opt-in to an opt-out voter registration system. Currently those applying for state IDs can ask to be registered to vote at the same time; under the bill, this would have been automatic unless someone asked not to be registered.

In addition, the bill contained a number of provisions to keep voter rolls updated and check for persons who are ineligible to vote, including:

• using data from the Department of Public Safety to check for any non-citizens listed in the statewide voter registration system;

• comparing voter rolls with Social Security databases to check for any deceased voters;

• requiring the Department of Corrections and the courts to update elections officials on the convictions and civil rights statutes of felons; and

• forwarding information on name changes from the courts system to the Office of the Secretary of State and to county auditors, who would then notify individuals with changed names that they have to re-register to vote.

Pawlenty vetoed the bill, in part, he wrote, because no Republican legislators voted for it. The veto letter states that changes to election law “should be accomplished on a bipartisan basis.” In addition, Pawlenty wrote that “registering to vote should be a voluntary, intentional act.”


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